12 Minutes to Sleep for Insomniacs


Insomnia is usually caused by inappropriate arousal – it could be the coffee that you had, it could also be your work or literally anything can cause you to be staying up.

I talked about how to calm down in 6 seconds using yogic breathing last time around. In 660 seconds, you can have your sleep.

I suffered from insomnia while I was living in Perth, Australia. It was winter, most people sleep through it. But there I was unable to sleep. There was the cold and general stress to deal with.

A new Bikram Yoga studio opened up near my home. I thought to myself, I can get fit and warm at the same time. It was a great idea! So I took up my first hot yoga session there.
It was HOT. Very hot. I rested in “child’s pose” for most of the 90 minute class. But that night, I slept like never before. And it continued through winter, every time after a Bikram class. I was finally a happy camper. It wasn’t the heat, because I had been through Cambodian summers of 45 degree Celsius.

It was the yoga.

Yoga helps to decrease arousal level. Most people can’t get to sleep because there is just something that has to keep running in their heads.

Well, what do you do?
Khalsa, who is a Kundalini yogi and assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School, ran a study with 20 chronic insomniacs. Over a course of 8 weeks daily, the participants meditated on their breathing using the ratio inhale: hold: exhale 4: 16: 2 seconds. They sat, while ensuring they had a straight but relaxed spine.

For the first 3 minutes, they were to focus on long and slow abdominal breathing. In the following 3 minutes, their arms were extended vertically outwards at around 60 degrees, with their palms facing up. The palms are pushed together at the sternum level for the next 3 minutes. In the final 3 minutes, the palms are rested in the lap, and the right palm rested over the left palm while thumbs are touching.

In Khalsa’s study, participants got to sleep more easily, better and longer! They were lying in bed for a much lesser time.

Karen Then from Bikram Yoga Victoria Park recommends these poses from the Bikram sequence to help you get to sleep:

1) Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose
2) Wind Removing Pose
3) Half Tortoise
4) Half Spinal Twist
5) Savasana

Give it a go and let us know if you are sleeping better!

Treatment of Chronic Insomnia with Yoga: A Preliminary Study with Sleep–Wake Diaries. Khalsa, Sat Bir S. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Vol. 29, No. 4, December 2004 ( C _ 2004)


2 thoughts on “12 Minutes to Sleep for Insomniacs

  1. overfished

    I loved this post! I’m new to yoga so I had to search up the sequences that you mentioned one by one but I liked the idea of falling asleep faster and having a better quality sleep. Also like how all your posts are backed up by scientific journals (Y). Thanks!


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